Monday, August 21, 2017

The sun ain't gonna shine

As everyone already knows, the moon will photobomb the sun for a while today, and will cause the sky to darken completely within a 70-mile-wide band that begins in Oregon and extends southeast across the country to South Carolina, with Nashville being the major city to experience the event, the.first total solar eclipse in the US since 1979.  If you are not within that area, you still may experience a dramatic partial eclipse, or you can simply watch on television.

Over the weekend, I read a lot about this spectacular happening and watched video, including Frank Reynolds' coverage of the last one.  (Reynolds, by the way, was an outstanding newsman, and someone I can say made a huge difference in our world).  I found it interesting that we will experience another total eclipse in just seven years, whereas the last one was thirty-eight years ago.  Oh and I learned that eclipses don't all last the same amount of time.  For this one, much of the country will experience the eclipse for about an hour and a half, but the peak of the eclipse will last only for about two minutes and 40 seconds.

Of course none of this has anything to do with making a difference in the world.  I thought some of you might be interest, but it really is off-subject.  Please forgive me.  I'm sure there are a lot of cool stories related to this, and some might include actual heroes - people who really do make a difference.  Maybe you would like to share one in the comments section below.  Meanwhile, I hear my radio playing "the sun ain't gonna shine anymore" and "Total eclipse of the heart."  Let's make this a great day!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Smile, what's the use of crying?

One of my favorite song lyrics says "Smile, what's the use of crying?"  Indeed.  Charles Chaplin, John Turner, and Geoffrey Parsons gave us something very special in that song they wrote.  I can almost hear it right now.  I love Petula Clark's version, and even Michael Jackson's,  but the best known of course is from Nat King Cole.

Song lyrics can change our mood, and so it's those happy words that I want to hear the most of!  Our little road trip from San Francisco has features a lot of happy songs and a lot of singing.  I'm even getting a little hoarse. (Chaplin, by the way did the music and the words came from Turner and Parsons).  You certainly can't go wrong when the title is Smile!  Smiling is just about the happiest thing a person can do! 

The last three simple lines of that song really say it so well! 
 
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Fifty

Walking down an unfamiliar street in Buffalo, New York many years ago, it suddenly began to rain. It wasn't a light shower but rather a cold and pounding downpour. I wasn't wearing an overcoat and had no umbrella, so I was soaked almost immediately. My usual sunny mood had turned to quite the opposite, but all that was about to change.

Hurrying up the sidewalk with water pouring off of me, I looked down and there in front of me was a fifty dollar bill! Oh my! Now the rain didn't seem so bad. If it hadn't been raining, surely that money would have blown away. I put it in my pocket and continued on my way.

Later when I mentioned my good luck to a friend, he said "But it isn't yours. Did you even try to find the rightful owner?"

This wasn't a wallet or an identifiable piece of property. It was US currency that someone had likely dropped without knowing, but since I didn't witness it, how could I possibly find the person it belonged to?

I'm telling you this story today to solicit your thoughts. Was I wrong to keep it? Was that a dishonest act? What would YOU have done?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

For him it makes a difference

Another one of those "internet parables" came my way the other day, and although you may have heard it, this one again is worth sharing. Like others I have shared here in the past, I have no idea who the author is.

It seems an old man was going for a walk one day when he noticed a little boy feeding a thin, shaggy looking dog with bits of bread. He went up to the boy and asked him why he was sharing his bread with the dog.

The little boy answered, "Because he has nothing. No home, no family, and if I don’t feed him he will die."

"But there are homeless dogs everywhere," the old man replied. "Your efforts don’t really make a difference."

The little boy looked at the dog and stroked him. "For him, for this little dog, it makes all the difference in the world."

I wish I knew who wrote this because they get it so amazingly right. Did you ever hold back from donating money or food or anything else because you could only spare a small amount and thought it wouldn't make a difference? If we all fed those homeless dogs - if we all fed those homeless people, it would make such a difference. I'm thinking we just might wipe out homelessness!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Jeff Adachi is a hero


Jeff Adachi is a hero. He is indeed making a difference in this world. There. I said it upfront in case you don't want to read this all the way through, but I can tell you more.

Adachi, the elected Public Defender for San Francisco County, oversees an office with over 150 staff, including 100 lawyers. He's not just the manager though. You will just as likely see him in the courtroom, fighting for his client. I just read that he has tried over 100 jury trials. He does what every attorney should do, but what so many don't. He looks out for those he represents. 
 
There's also Jeff Adachi the film maker. Check out The Slanted Screen, You Don't Know Jack: The Jack Soo Story, and America Needs a Racial Facial to find out what I mean.  This would especially be a good week to check out that last one, an eight minute film about race in this country.  (The other ones are noteworthy too, dealing with the underrepresentation of Asian actors in the US film industry).

Adachi is an annual participant in the LGBT Pride Parade in San Francisco and a huge group from his office usually accompanies him.  You'll also see him on the evening news, speaking out whenever there is a local injustice, and raising his voice to see that justice prevails.

I could easily go on and on about how this man has made a difference in the lives of many, as an attorney, a film producer, and an activist, but trust me - Jeff Adachi is a hero.  Our world could use more folks like him!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Disgusted by the hatred

This was not a weekend to be proud of.  On Friday night, things began with a large group of white men carrying torches though the University of Virginia  campus in what they called a “pro-white” demonstration, protesting plans to remove a statue of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee. It quickly spiraled into violence Saturday morning and at least three lives were lost.  Many voiced opinions over the weekend, but none have condemned the hatred as strongly as Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.

On Saturday morning, Governor McAuliffe declared a State of Emergency saying in part "It is now clear that public safety cannot be safeguarded without additional powers, and that the mostly out-of-state protesters have come to Virginia to endanger our citizens and property. I am disgusted by the hatred, bigotry and violence these protesters have brought to our state over the past 24 hours. The actions I have taken are intended to assist local government and restore public safety."

On social media there were some who made jokes.  Seriously.  How can hatred and prejudice be funny?  Some leaders made statements, but didn't condemn the hate and the violence.  There were Confederate and Nazi flags and salutes and there were even supportive messages from the Ku Klux Klan.  Terry McAuliffe was quick to condemn all of the violence and hatred.  "You pretend that you are patriots, but you are anything but a patriot," McAuliffe said, with Charlottesville's mayor and police chief beside him.  "We are stronger than you," he added, speaking to white nationalists.  "You have made our commonwealth stronger. You will not succeed. There is no place for you here."

The Democratic Governor would be heard from several times over the weekend.  There were counter protests as well.  There was a lot of anti-hate comments on social media, but will that translate into action?  It is clear that a huge racism problem exists.  Will the haters be driven away though or will everyone just forget about it in a day or so?  Governor McAuliffe said he was "disgusted by the hatred."  Shouldn't we all be disgusted?


"You are not patriots," Governor McAuliffe said at his press conference. "You came here today to hurt people and that is not patriotic.  My message is clear.  We are stronger than you. You will not succeed. There is no place for you here and there is no place for you in America."  Governor McAuliffe should inspire us all - there should never be a place for hatred in America.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Change the World

Listening to Eric Clapton sing Change the World, I find myself thinking of all the many things I would love to do. Clapton's song is really a love song, but it's from the motion picture Phenomenon and the film was about someone who indeed changed the world.

A couple of wonderful scenes from the movie stick in my mind. In on of them, the lead character George Malley asks his love interest Lace Pennamin, "Hey, would you, uh, love me for the rest of my life?" Her response: "No, I'm gonna love you for the rest of mine." In another scene, George is trying to comfort the two small children of Lace, who have just learned that he is dying. George uses an apple as a metaphor, saying that no matter what, an apple will rot and die if thrown on the ground, but if you were to take a bite out of it, the apple would become a part of you, and you would carry it with you forever. I really love that way of looking at it. He is essentially saying that he will therefore live forever.

From a Clapton song to a major film, there are different ways of looking at leaving a piece of yourself behind - of changing the world.  If we all do something that becomes a part of others, we will in a sense, live forever.  Of course we don't try to do good or change the world, just so we will have immortality.  We do it to benefit our families and our friends and other loved ones.  We all can change the world!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

One man's trash

Something that one person considers to be worthless just might be considered valuable by someone else.  I think the old saying is that one man's trash is another man's treasure.  You might also look at it as always seeing something positive, even in something as seemingly worthless as garbage.
 
I know people who always see the positive.  I try to be like that myself.  I would much rather enjoy the everyday experiences and rejoice in the hidden beauty that is so often missed than to spend unnecessary time and money going for the lavish expensive things that so many covet but which all too often are really over rated.
 
There is so much good - everywhere.  All we have to do is open our eyes and our minds.  Now, I'm not saying we should wallow in dirt and filth, but we can appreciate the less extravagant.  We can also do something about the filth and make it so that everyone might enjoy it!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Gentle on my mind

The incredible singer, songwriter, musician, tv host, and actor, Glen Campbell died yesterday morning at memory care facility in Nashville.  We will remember him for "Gentle on My Mind," "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman," "Galveston," "Rhinestone Cowboy," "Southern Nights," and many other hit songs.  We will of course remember "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour" on television, along with his many other tv appearances and his film roles in "True Grit" and "Norwood."  To say that Glen Campbell brought joy to people for many years, would be an understatement. 

Campbell is forever been known for his final years as well.  It was inn June of 2011 that he announced that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.  At a time when most people would want privacy, especially celebrities, Campbell let the world have a glimpse of this disease and how it was effecting him.  We also heard reports from friends and family members and listened to him perform one more time.  Campbell's courage in revealing his illness brought more attention to Alzheimer's.

Please go to http://alz.org/ to learn more about the disease and what is being done.  This is an organization that Glen Campbell supported.  A donation in his honor would certainly be appropriate.

All day yesterday, tributes came from performers and others who had worked with Campbell over the years or who had been touched by his talent.  Please feel free to add your own memories in the comments section below.  Also, donations can be made to the Glen Campbell Memorial Fund, by clicking HERE.  Forever he will be gentle on my mind.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Every single penny

Through the year, I personally try to raise money for various causes. I know this blog is NOT about me, but I wanted to share something I often hear.  "I'd give, but I can only spare a few bucks, and that isn't worth it."  Every single penny helps.  Remember, we don't act alone, but together with every other person who is giving.

Just recently I raised money for the 30th AIDS Walk San Francisco and I can't tell you how many people said they wanted to give but just didn't have the fifty dollars it takes.  Some of this is the fault of organizations that suggest certain amounts when asking for donations.  What really should be stressed over and over is that ALL gifts are helpful.

My birthday is later this month, and rather than accept presents, I am asking anyone who wants to give something, to donate to my church.  For folks who might not like the idea of churches, I'm participating in the Light the Night Walk in the fall, and it's not too early to make donations there.  Again, I try to stress to my friends that the smallest of gifts is appreciated just as much as the largest.

If you are out there collecting for a favorite charity, remind people of this.  The idea isn't to make people go broke or to make them feel guilty.  There are some who just might not be able to even spare a dime, but for those who can give, every single penny counts.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Love those health care workers

It was not my plan at all to spend the weekend in hospital, but that's what happened. I won't go into details, because this blog is NOT about me, but I will say I am okay and there is no need to worry. I also want to say that health care workers are incredible!

In the past few days I got to see nurses, aides, technicians, phlebotomists, physicians, and any number of other hospital employees, not only dealing with me, but I could overhear their interactions with other patients.  So much caring!  If the whole world was like the people I have just encountered this weekend, we would never have anything to worry about.

Being a nurse or any health care worker, makes a difference to other people.  Think about the work they do the next time you visit your doctor.  Be sure to say thanks!


Friday, August 4, 2017

Live for something greater

Just what does it mean to live for something greater?  Think about it for a moment.  Are we talking about great accomplishments?  Are we talking about a greater power?  Are we talking about a set of values?  What do you think?
 
I write a lot about hometown heroes and to me, those are the folks who live for something greater.  It might not have been something they thought about or planned, but by their actions or by their words, they made a difference and it was something that endures.
 
Do you want you live to be infancy, school, work, retirement, and then death with no great milestones along the way?  Well most of us don't.  It's human nature to do new things and along the way to become more and more popular and to have more and more friends.  Although we know we cannot live forever, many of us want something we do or say to last beyond our time on this earth.  That's what motivates them to do great things.
 
The motivations can be many.  There need not be just one answer to my above questions.  How about if we all strive to live for something greater!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Still more of my favorite quotes

There are famous quotations that have become a part of our daily lives.  Sometimes we even get confused as to the source - is it from The Bible?  from Shakespeare? I'll bet there is a favorite of yours that I haven't mentioned in the ones I listed these past two days.  Do feel free to share it with us! 

Yesterday I quoted John Lennon and indeed many great sayings come from songwriters.  Think of a favorite lyric and the meaning behind it.  Think about how powerful some song words have been to you.

Encouraging statements are the ones that stick with me the most.  Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt once made a very encouraging statement that is like an anthem to me:  “The purpose of life is to live it."  Indeed.

Perhaps the most encouraging of all statements for me is one from Blessed Paul the Apostle in his letter to the Romans.  Saint Paul said "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  To that I'll simply say, "Amen."

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Some more of my favorite quotes

Once I started this yesterday, a bunch of additional quotations came to mind.  There are really a lot of profound things being said.  Here are some more -

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away." –Maya Angelou

"When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life." –John Lennon

"The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be." –Ralph Waldo Emerson

"You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take." –Wayne Gretzky

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover." –Mark Twain
 
More things to think about.  Perhaps some of you will act on these.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Some of my favorite quotes

Sometimes people say things that are so profound, they are quoted over and over again.  These are some of my favorite inspiring thoughts from some folks you may have heard of -

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." –Benjamin Franklin

"You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try." –Beverly Sills

"When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it." –Henry Ford

"Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value." –Albert Einstein

"It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years." –Abraham Lincoln

"If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough." –Oprah Winfrey
 
A few things to think about today.

Monday, July 31, 2017

roses are red - sometimes

Roses are red, says the poem. Indeed they are. They might also be pink or white or yellow or a number of other colors, including a mixed color. I think the most stunning rose color is lavender, and it smells nice too!

I'm thinking of roses this morning because I happened to pass so gorgeous ones on my early walk. I just wanted to stop and soak in the beauty. It's no wonder people love to send and to receive these wonderful flowers. Oh my!

Oh and this is in keeping with the theme of this blog. If you plant beautiful flowers, you are certainly helping to make this a more beautiful world. Such a simple thing, huh? Of course there are many flower possibilities. Do you have a favorite? If I were to send you a bouquet, what flowers would you want included?

Friday, July 28, 2017

An unlikely combination of heroes

Rare is the day when I say something political here.  That's not the purpose of this blog after all.  We're here to talk about heroes and about making a difference.  How I wish there were more people in elected office who were true heroes, who were making a difference, but that's another matter.  Something happened last night in the US Senate that I simply must mention here.

Back when Barack Obama was President, the Affordable Care Act was passed and went into effect, controlling health care costs, creating expand access to coverage, and improving health care quality, among other things.  The law, often referred to as ObamaCare, is not perfect, but it does something important that had not been done before - it allows for health coverage for so many who would otherwise be without.  The current administration wants to do away with this law, which would result in millions of people losing their coverage.

Now I happen to think that everyone should be able to have basic health care and the battle in Washington, DC these past seven months has really exasperated me.  Last night in the US Senate, three Republicans, joined with the Democrats, and voted no on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, saving millions of Americans from the disaster of no health care.

Voting along party lines has become all too common, despite what constituents may say.  Sometimes I'm sure we must wonder if politicians are even able to think.  Last night though, two women and a man, voted in the opposite way of their 97 colleagues.  Three senators might indeed have been an unlikely combination of heroes, but their demonstration of bravery and integrity made a difference.  I'd certainly love to see more behavior like this!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

In equal service

The whole idea of exclusion is a foreign concept to me, so when President Donald Trump announced yesterday that the US military will not allow transgender individuals to serve “in any capacity,” I immediately began shaking my head.  The military had excluded gays from service, even though many secretly served.  Other countries had gay men and women in their military and it just didn't make sense that we should say no, so I marched and protested with others, and I know this blog is NOT about me, but it is about justice and equality and it just is not right to exclude.

We finally won and gay men and women are now able to openly serve in the armed forces.  The earth did not stop rotating.  There were no ill effects.  Under President Barack Obama, a new policy allowing transgender service members to openly serve finally gave our military the equality that had been lacking.

Then came yesterday's announcement.

Now I cannot tell you how many transgender servicemembers there are, but the number is in the thousands.  I have seen no evidence that their service on the whole has been anything less than positive.  There are even some outstanding examples.  Although the White House said this is a military decision, I must disagree.  This is a political decision and it is a decision based in prejudice.  "Let's treat the other person differently."  NO!  That's not what America is about.

Why are so many people concerned about the gender identity of others?  What business is it of anyone?  Seriously.  Think about it long and hard.  How does the gender of another person effect you?  Even if you have a problem with someone else transitioning (which is really none of your business), at the end of the day only one thing is important here.  We are talking about human beings and every single human being deserves to be treated equally and fairly. 

Retired US Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling called President Trump's military ban on transgender troops "mean to people who have volunteered to serve their country."  I agree.  There is just no other way to describe it, but sadly there are those who are in agreement with the ban.  When did we become such a mean nation.  Let's get back to kindness and fairness and back to "liberty and justice for all."

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Rule to live by

Some people say they have a code of ethics or a rule to live by. The whole "giving back" idea that I write about here every day, I think is a form of this code. Many refer to it as the Golden Rule.
 
It really is quite basic: we should treat others as we would like others to treat us. Not hard to understand, right? It is generally stated as "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
 
There is a "two-way" relationship between us and the others in our world and that relationship involves both sides equally. None of us likes to have too many regulations, but we all should have some kind of positive rule to live by. This is just basic human values.
 
I can remember when people used to quote this rule. I can remember when it was common for people to actually live by it. We can go back to that again. It is possible.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Hospital window

Occasionally I've shared stories here that are not my own. Today I have one of those. This has been floating around on the internet, and I have no idea who wrote it, but please read on for a moving tale.

"Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for endless hours.

"They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, and where they had been on vacation.

"Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

"The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.

"One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn't hear the band, he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

"Days and weeks passed.

"One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

"As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

"Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall!

"The man called the nurse and asked her what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.


She said, 'Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.'"

Great story, huh? As I said, the author of this is unknown. You may have even read it before, but I think it is worth seeing again. I was very moved when I first read this story, and I hope it touches you as well.  Do share this with others too. That's what encouragement is all about.

Monday, July 24, 2017

F NOT Fitzgerald

The other day I read a wonderful quote that had been attributed to F Scott Fitzgerald. It was one of those encouraging things that often will end up on a poster, but as I was reading it, I also learned that the words were not his. Oh my! The article actually went on to say that there are many instances these days of quotes wrongly attributed on the internet.

Now Fitzgerald was an incredible writer. There is no denying that. He died at a very young age, but had he lived longer, there is no telling how many more wonderful stories he would have told. Among his works are This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby, and Tender Is the Night. In addition, Fitzgerald penned dozens of short stories.

The quote I was speaking of though is the very kind of thing I like to share here. It likely came from a screenwriter by the name of Eric Roth. There is much evidence that it was not Fitzgerald's. Still, it's a wonderful quote:

For what it’s worth … it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”

Friday, July 21, 2017

Live in the now

One of the biggest mistakes some folks make is to live a live filled with regrets.  I'm talking about those who strive so hard to get to another place, that they miss all the joys of being where they are.
 
There is nothing wrong with having goals.  In fact it is quite healthy to plan new adventures and to want change.  It can become unhealthy though if it is an obsession. Stop waiting for Friday to come as if you can only be happy on you days off from work.  Stop waiting for your vacations with the mindset that you are miserable the rest of the time.  Look with joy to relaxation of course, but never feel like the rest of the time is bad or the bus will simply pass you by.  I know of people who dread Mondays. As for me, I'm excited for each new week I'm alive and I greet Monday (and pretty much every day) with a smile.
 
Do you know anyone who is desperately waiting for someone to fall in love with them?  This is the same thing.  Yes, it would be lovely if you had a life partner and who would not want to be loved, but don't focus on that above all else and stop living your live in the here and now.  It certainly won't make you a very attractive candidate for romance.  Even worse, it won't be good for you.
 
When we live in the now and find enjoyment in our daily lives, we are much happier people.  The world can always use more happiness!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

One person can make a difference

Several years ago, when I wrote my very first entry here, I spoke of changing the world; of giving back to society; of making a difference.  The theme of this blog has remained the same throughout and I trace it all back to my childhood when John F Kennedy was the US President.  Kennedy challenged us to dream.  He challenged us to make a difference.

It has been more than fifty years since his words were spoken, but they carry the same encouragement now, as then. On January 20, 1961 at his inauguration at the US Capital, Kennedy said the line most often quoted: "Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country." The President was challenging every single American to contribute in some way to the public good - to make a difference. We still can answer that call!

I don't remember if it was Jacqueline Kennedy or John Kennedy who said this (it has been attributed to both, although Caroline Kennedy credits her father with the words in her forward to the anniversary edition of Profiles In Courage). "One person can make a difference and everyone should try." Indeed. Everyone.
 
I know this blog is NOT about me, and I don't know of my success here, but every day, through my blogs and activism, I want to do something that benefits someone else.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Don't bury your head

Some people just might claim that the ostrich is the most imitated in all the animal kingdom.  I'm sure you know people who bury their heads in the sand - perhaps not literally, but certainly figuratively.  "Let me close my eyes to all the bad things and pretend they aren't even happening." Of course that doesn't accomplish a thing!  It does absolutely nothing! Bad things still exist, even when you refuse to look at them.  When you turn on the tv news or pick up your local newspaper, you will see negative stories galore.

Now I don't usually write about what NOT to do, because I have always preferred the more positive side of things.  So instead of suggesting that we not bury our heads in the sand, let me suggest instead that we go through life with our eyes wide open doing the best we can and looking for chances along the way to make change and to do good.  Yes there is a lot of bad, but instead of moaning and groaning about it, let's think of ideas that will make a difference.

We all have the power to make change.  Sometimes it might not seem like it, but even small things can make a difference.  I was reminded the other day about the power of a simple smile.  It feels good to contribute.  It really does.  Burying your head only makes us feel bad in the end.  I much prefer the good!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Good cop Good cop

The other day, Stanley Roberts, a reporter at San Francisco tv station KRON4, told the story of two San Jose, CA police officers who did a wonderful kind act.  In the course of their day, they came upon an elderly man who according to Roberts was "distraught and visibly upset...nearly in tears."  After patiently questioning him, they found he had just lost a son and that earlier in the year, another son had passed away.  Pretty bad, huh?  To make matters worse, this poor old man could not afford to make the trip to his son's funeral. 

Now you might expect that these police officers would at this point, have wished the gentleman well and been on their way, but as Stanley Roberts tells the story, they went way beyond what might be expected.  Immediately they made reservations for the man to fly to the funeral, paying for his round-trip fare and also paying for his ride to the airport.  They apparently didn't even make mention of this deed.  It was someone else who spilled the beans, and the story continues now to be retold.

So many police officers go way beyond their job requirements.  The San Francisco police recently tweeted about two of their officers who rescued a Canadian Goose who had been spooked after stepping into traffic.  It was another heartwarming story about two cops.  I could fill page after page with such stories, because there really are a lot of good cops, despite the negative reports we too often hear.

Now, I'm not saying all cops are perfect and that there is never any abuse of power.  Sadly that simply isn't the case.  Let's hear more about those good cops though.  I know there are a LOT of powerful stories and I invite you to share ones that you know of, in the comments section below. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Circle the Wagons

It was a few years back when a California woman received her cancer diagnosis and she was determined to beat it.  Early treatment was successful, but earlier this year the cancer returned and this time it had the upper hand.  Doctors were not optimistic. 

As this year began, a southern California man had a scary situation.  He suffered a brain hemorrhage and then was in a coma.  This vibrant young man lay helpless in a hospital bed with an unknown future.  Friends and family members came and were by his side.

Both of these stories are true.  In both cases a cry went out to circle the wagons - to unite for the common cause of helping a beloved person return to health.  People not only gathered in person but hundreds sent messages and posted on social media.  People cared.  As it became obvious that the woman would die, the love and the prayers continued to flow.  She passed away a few days ago, and her husband has already commented how helpful all of the prayers and concern have been.

The young man has a happier ending to his story.  Actually, it isn't an ending but a new beginning.  He was just discharged but now faces a lot of rehabilitation.  He was on the brink of death and for weeks he didn't walk or talk, but now he's on the mend.  A great encouragement along the way has been all the folks who came to visit and all the prayers.  Over 400 people kept tabs on him via facebook.  Wow!  He and his mother have said how grateful they are for all the concern, in fact at his discharge he wrote "Thanks for the thoughts, love, support and prayers."

When we circle the wagons, we can do incredible things.  Just our presence can be pretty wonderful to folks who need us.  Of course we don't have to wait for a crisis.  How wonderful it is to be there for others even when all is going well.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Let's keep walking

Over the weekend, the 30th annual AIDS Walk San Francisco, a 10k fundraising walk to fight the epidemic will take place with money raised benefitting Project Inform, Project Open Hand, a pilot program on HIV and aging at San Francisco General Hospital Ward 86, and more than 40 Bay Area AIDS service organizations.  It's a huge deal and one where you find lots of heroes.

The very first AIDS Walk was back on July 28, 1985 in Los Angeles where $673,000.was raised.  The next year was the first AIDS Walk in New York City and over 4,500 walkers raised $710,000.  It was 1987 when I got involved with the first event in San Francisco.  Now there are AIDS Walks in cities large and small, all raising funds for HIV/AIDS organizations in their area.

If I look for examples of people making a difference, here it is!  Volunteers doing all sorts of things, the walkers of course, and all of the sponsors and donors.  I've mentioned this year-after-year, because it's important, and I'll continue talking about it until there's a cure.  If you want to walk, you can still participate in the San Francisco event this Sunday morning.  If you would like to donate, I'd be thrilled to have you as a sponsor!  You can sponsor me HERE and also click the links to find out how to walk.  If you are in another area, find out about AIDS Walk near where you live and get involved!

I'm sometimes amazed that folks are less and less aware of AIDS than when these walks first began.  We need to share information.  Let's stay involved.  Let's end any suffering and any stigma.  Let's keep walking.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

some summertime notes

First time here?  Well you are certainly welcome!  Usually I write here about those folks in our world who are making things better - the heroes in our lives - the people who make a difference.  Sometimes I write about how we can all follow their lead.  Every single one of us can make a difference you know.  Today, I have a few notes to share.

Apparently folks do read this.  Last week I wrote about a local bus driver and later in the week I received a lovely email from the superintendent for the transit system which read in part "We are all very saddened that her had to leave so abruptly, but it will be a good move for her. I appreciate your kind words and I’m certain that it will mean a lot to her to know that she made such an impact."  Well it meant a lot to me to hear these kind words.

Oh and speaking of kindness, I also write a blog about kindness and you can find that seven days a week at http://ofbeingkind.blogspot.com/ - feel free to leave some kind words there for me.  Oh you can do the same here as well.  Right below, there is a space for your comments.

Some of the people I have written about, I keep on hearing more from various sources.  I especially like hearing stories about Chieh Huang.  This guy is making a huge difference (he's the CEO of boxed.com) and I know we are going to keep hearing great things about him.  I'm sure some of you have heroes in your life.  Let me hear about them.  Seriously.  Let's tell the whole world about the wonderful things some people do.  I hope to hear from you soon.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Twenty dollar bill story

A well-known speaker started off his seminar holding up a $20 bill. In the room of 200 people, he asked, "Who would like this $20 bill?" Hands started going up. He said, "I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this."

He proceeded to crumple up the currency and then asked, "Who still wants it?" Still the hands were up in the air. "Well," he replied, "What if I do this?" And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. "Now, who still wants it?" Still the hands went into the air.

"My friends, we have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth twenty dollars. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We may feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who DO LOVE you. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by WHO WE ARE. You are special - Don't EVER forget it."

I've told you about this speaker and the story of the twenty dollar bill here before.  It didn't originate with me.  It is one of those that has floated around and I am simply retelling it here. (I do that sort of thing from time-to-time). But it speaks to a number of things. Mostly it says count your blessings, not your problems.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Inspiration from Arthur Ashe

My sister loves playing and watching tennis and so naturally she was a big fan of Arthur Ashe.  Somehow his name came up talking to her the other day and I began thinking about how he was not only a tennis great, but a great inspiration in so many ways.  I hope he will always be remembered. 

It's been twenty four years since he died from AIDS-related pneumonia, but his accomplishments on the tennis court, his memorable statements, his civil rights activism, and his heart disease and AIDS advocacy stand as a huge monument to a great man who made a great difference. His three-volume book titled A Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African-American Athlete, is a very interesting read and his memoir Days of Grace takes a wonderful look at just who Arthur Ashe was.

So much of his life is inspiring, but if I had to take just one thing, I would look to some very wise words he once said. "Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can."

Monday, July 10, 2017

No man is an island

For some reason, when I awoke this morning, I could hear Joan Baez in my mind singing

No man is an island,
No man stands alone,
Each man's joy is joy to me,
Each man's grief is my own.

We need one another,
So I will defend,
Each man as my brother,
Each man as my friend.


The message of course is a timeless one.  We need each other.  Simple, huh? 

In the Book of  Ecclesiastes it says "Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe unto him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up."

How many of us feel alone though?  Is it the fault of the others is our world, or could we be doing something differently?  There is an story of a little boy who is having a tough time trying to lift a very heavy rock. His dad comes along and seeing him trying, and failing, to lift the rock, asks him, “Are you using all of your strength?” The little boy looks at him rather impatiently, and says, “of course I am!” “No, you are not,” replies the father, “I am right here waiting and you haven’t asked me to help you.”

Yes, it is wonderful to reach out to others.  It is wonderful to do things that will benefit those around us.  That's pretty much what we talk about here every single day.  It is important to note though that when someone does not reach out to us, it is okay for us to ask. 

In his letter to the Philippians, Saint Paul says "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."  How can I help you, AND how can you help me?  We are not alone.  We need each other.

If our strength were to be measured not by what we can do alone but by what we can do together, how would the world change? How might those changes reflect in our idea of caring and of being cared for?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Another driver made a difference

On Monday I wrote here about a local bus driver who made a difference and it got me thinking about this story that I have shared here before.  This is a taxi driver and I have no idea who the author of this is (it was floating around for awhile on the internet) and I don't even know if it's true, but since I was thinking about it again, I thought I would share it here once more.



A NYC Taxi driver wrote:

I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked..

'Just a minute', answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940's movie.

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.

There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

'Would you carry my bag out to the car?' she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.

She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.

She kept thanking me for my kindness. 'It's nothing', I told her. 'I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.'

'Oh, you're such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, 'Could you drive through downtown?'

'It's not the shortest way,' I answered quickly.

'Oh, I don't mind,' she said. 'I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice.

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. 'I don't have any family left,' she continued in a soft voice. 'The doctor says I don't have very long.' I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

'What route would you like me to take?' I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, 'I'm tired. Let's go now'.

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move.

They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

'How much do I owe you?' She asked, reaching into her purse.

'Nothing,' I said.

'You have to make a living,' she answered.

'There are other passengers,' I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

'You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,' she said. 'Thank you.'

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.
 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

It's not just about the wallet

Donations make a difference - I've said so for years, but there is more than just money.  Some folks want to contribute but simply can't afford to give money.  Of course there are clothing drives and toy drives and food bank collections.  These are all ways to give without necessarily dipping into your wallet.  There is also the giving of your time and your talent - a very valuable gift.

But wait!  There is more than just the tangible.  The sense of belonging to a cause of joining it and becoming a part of it, is very important.  I personally do fundraising walk-a-thons regularly and one of the big things for me is the getting together with other committed folks.  Sharing information and visibility are important for most any cause.

When you get those emails or phone calls asking you to give, it doesn't have to be about your wallet.  If it is something you are passionate about, there are other ways to make a difference.  These days there are a lot of folks rallying around political causes too.  Whatever rings a bell for you, don't despair that you are unable to give money.  Instead, think of other ways you can do good and get involved.  There is always a way to give back!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Paying it forward at McDonald's

Did you hear about the kind act in Indiana that spread to 167 drivers? At a McDonald's Restaurant in Scottsburg, one random kind act last month sparked a whole series of followers!  This is such a wonderful story.

As you know, I was writing about lgbtq related places and heroes all through June as part of Pride Month, and it was during that time that this incident occurred, so you may have already heard about it.  (Several tv stations there picked up the story, and it is so heartwarming, that everyone has been talking about it).  I write a daily blog about kindness, and I mentioned it there too.

Sometimes it just takes a simple act, and that's apparently how this began.  It was Father's Day and a man with four children was in a van at this McDonald's drive-thru.  Up ahead of him was the woman who got the ball rolling with her kind gesture.  She paid for the man and told the cashier to tell him "Happy Father's Day." The man was so moved that he paid for the next two cars behind him.  The ripple effect continued and the restaurant says that in all it spread to 167 vehicles!  Wow!

This is living proof of something I have long said.  One person can indeed make a difference!  Imagine if this happened every day.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Declaration - ALL of it

I think most people know the significance of this day, but how many of you have actually read the Declaration of Independence?  Many are familiar with a line in the second paragraph "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."  The other words are significant too.  How about this?  Before you go about your business on this holiday, take a moment to read the full text, which I am sharing here below, and then do something at all Americans would be proud of!

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

(Signed)
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton